Welcome to all! This month we will be discussing ‘arthritis’. At this time of year many of the older generation begin to suffer more with joint pain and stiffness. Those who suffer with a ‘dodgy’ knee or a ‘trick’ hip do not look forward to the cold, damp mornings of winter in the UK. For those that can afford it, a short flight to the Costa del Sol or a long trip to the southern hemisphere is exactly what the doctor ordered for a bit of light relief, and a chance to look browner than most in March. I refer of course to a small minority of a large group of people who suffer the dreaded ‘arthritis’. Around 15% of our ageing population have arthritis or related conditions and in 1999-2000, 206 million working days were lost in the UK due to incapacity. So if you suffer, you’re not alone!
There are around 100 different types of arthritis (‘arthr’ means joint, ‘itis’ means inflammation), yet many are very poorly understood. Osteoarthritis (osteo-arthr-itis, bone-joint-inflammation), however, is known to be produced by years of stress and injury to the musculoskeletal system. For the most part, this arthritis is caused as a result of ageing. But as everyone knows, if you use parts of your body at home, or at work a lot, it may increase your chance of joint pain. For example runners suffer knee pain, and typists suffer hand and wrist pain. So what can one expect from arthritis;
1. Joint pain is the first symptom noticed by most people suffering from arthritis. This pain is generally persistent and can be aggravated by excessive movement or activity. Even writing, getting up from a chair, walking, typing, throwing a ball, holding an object, or turning a key can cause the problem to flare. Often muscle tightness or over protecting the painful joint in the early stages after an injury may increase risk of further pain.
2. Inflammation is another early arthritis symptom. Inflammation of the joint is characterized by stiffness, swelling, redness, and warmth. The body responding to the irritated joint causes this arthritis symptom and is actually a normal reaction, but can occasionally leave the patient wary of over working the joint or putting weight on it.
3.Another arthritis symptom, joint deformity, leads to more permanent changes and swelling to the affected joints. This often occurs, for example in the hand where fingers may look crooked, or in the knee where the joint appears larger. This is the body laying down more bone tissue in an attempt to stabilise the joint. As a result, the person suffering from arthritis is unable to use the affected area in the same way as before the arthritis set in. As you can imagine this is an arthritis symptom that shows up in the later stages of the condition
4.Those with arthritis typically have a loss of the range of motion in the affected area. A person with arthritis in the shoulder for example, may not be able to lift his or her arm higher than a certain point. This may be related to deformity or may because of tightened muscles and tissues around the joint.
How can osteopathy help? Well, unfortunately with the majority of arthritis, once the damage is present it is very unlikely to reverse itself, particularly as one gets older. However, osteopathy can help with 3 of the points above. Pain, swelling and range of movement. Using treatments such as massage, acupuncture, stretching, and mobility exercises I have had positive results with patients of all ages and stages of degeneration.
If you are concerned about arthritis or any other unexplained pain please call me on 07835596870 for a more specific chat or to make an appointment.